Social and business customs of china

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Introduction

Business customs refers to the methodologies, procedures, rules and processes applied or followed by a firm (institutions) in its pursuit of its stipulated objectives. The phrase social norm refers to the patterns of behaviors embraced by a particular culture, community, group and are perceived to be normal and individuals are supposed to conform to them. For any company to succeed it must follow the social norms and practices it has stipulated as well as those of the environment (country) in which it is located. Even those companies with prospects of investing in the external markets such as in other countries must merge their own business practices and norms with those of that new country. Looking at China, it is perceived to be a very difficult market by many people. This is because visitors find it to be bewildering due to its unique differences such as distance, culture, time and language. These differences also make the visitors to have the impression that the country is an extremely difficult place to do business in. I am a sales executive with the Daniel Software Company based in United States. The company wishes to extend its services to China and therefore the upper management has requested me to prepare an informal report with recommendations on china so that the company can move forward with its plans. This research paper is therefore going to focus on the social and business customs of China and how they will affect the marketing of the Daniel's software products (Mter9248, 2007).

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Before I went to China to research on its market, I read the available information on the country and even looked for advice from companies who know it or those businesses which have been in the Chinese market before. China's social norms include;

Greeting etiquette----

In China greeting is unavoidable and it is important when greeting people not to call them by their first names unless both of you are in familiar terms. Brief handshakes are customarily employed as a sign of respect. During the handshake, Chinese usually cover their normal handshake with the left hand and they also lower their eyes slightly when they meet others. According to the Chinese culture it is good to be calm, controlled and collected. Body posture should also always be formal, attentive and at the same time portraying respectability and self control. This will be very applicable as the company will be expanding to China because if the company's top brass and the junior workers do not apply the greetings appropriately they will face tough times in the hands of the Chinese community and this can bring down the company's expansion efforts.

Gift giving etiquette

This is considered to be one of the ways of showing courtesy in the Chinese community. They however do not like the idea of accepting gifts immediately one is given for it is perceived to be a sign of aggressiveness. According to the Chinese social norms the monetary value attached to a gift symbolizes the importance of a relationship. Gifts should be presented with both hands. When wrapping the gifts the color of the wrapper should also be considered because color has a lot of significance in the Chinese culture. For example red is for luck, yellow for happiness or prosperity while grey and black are specifically for the sad days. It is very important for this social norm to be noted in the expansion o f the Daniel Software Company to china. This is because the company will need some employees for the subsidiary which will be established in China. It is very clear that the company will not import employees but use the local citizens. This information will be applicable especially when issuing gifts because some gifts wrapped with the unfavorable colors will offend them and again the company have the understanding that giving gifts to employees and business associates will promote their relationship.

Dining etiquette

According to the Chinese social norms, an individual setting for everyday meals include a pair of chopsticks, a bowl of rice, a saucer and a flat bottomed soupspoon. The sitting arrangement is based on the rank and guests usually wait for the host to guide them. The Chinese regard the right side as superior and the left as the inferior and due to this during the formal occasions the host invariably arranges so that the main guests sit on the right side. Eating usually begins in order of seniority therefore each diner takes his turn from his or her immediate superior. Eating noodle or rice from the bowl left sitting on the table suggests that there is dissatisfaction with the food. This dining etiquette is very important for the expansion of Daniel's company in china because the company will take appropriate measures to ensure that senior Chinese officials who visit the company will not be embarrassed during the meals time since all the dining preparation will be done according to the Chinese ways.

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There are some are some business norms or business etiquettes in china which will be highly applicable to the new Daniel's company. They include;

Relationships and communication

Chinese do not like the idea of doing business with companies or people whom they don't know. They prefer face to face meeting rather than written or telephonic communication meals and social events are not places for conducting business transactions. The Chinese also see foreigners just as representatives of their company rather than individuals. This will assist the Daniel's Software Company to be launched in china because it will make sure that it has a formal introduction and even vouch for the reliability of the company. This will increase the business relationship between the company and the Chinese society because there is a formal introduction. This in formation will assist the Daniel's company in understanding the fact that there should be a demarcation between socializing and business in china (Cbbc.org 2009).

Business and meeting etiquette

Appointments are perceived to be compulsory in China and they should be made between 1-2 months in advance more so in writing. It is also a culture if you are to attend a meeting and you don't have a contact with the company you use the intermediaries through to arrange for a formal introduction. Once the introduction has been made one should provide the people in the meeting with more information about your company. The Chinese people take punctuality to be a virtue and therefore one should arrive at the meeting either early or on time. When holding a large meeting the Chinese believe that visual aids are necessary when one is attending a meeting. One should make sure that his presentations are detailed, factual and focus mainly on the long term benefits. This business etiquette will be very applicable in the marketing of the Daniel's Software because those who are sent to represent the company in some of the business meetings in China will know be aware of the manner in which they can present themselves and the company. This business etiquette will also be applicable for the new software company to be started in China because it will assist those who will be managing the company in acknowledging some of the ways in which they should prepare and handle meetings which they are holding and especially if the delegates in the business meeting are all Chinese.

Business negotiations

According to the Chinese business norms, only the senior members of the negotiating team have the opportunity to speak and therefore it is important that each group designates the most senior person to introduce the group. The Chinese undertake the business negotiations at a slow pace. They do not like confrontational meetings and they don't give a straight "no" to an idea but they always promise to think more about the idea. The Chinese negotiations are procedure oriented because they always want to determine if the relationships can develop to a stage where both parties are comfortable doing business with each other. One is not supposed to let loose his or her temper during the business negotiations because this leads to the loss of face and irrevocable damage to the business relationship. This is very important to the Daniel's Software Company because it will need some suppliers and consumers of some of the basic requirements. It will also require the helps of some individuals or companies in order to distribute its product effectively in China. This means that the company will at times go into business negotiations with this distributors or suppliers, majority of whom will be of Chinese origin. This negotiation etiquette is therefore necessary so that the managers may not mess the company during the business meeting thus making the company to lose some important deals (Kwintessential.co.uk, n.d).

Dress code

According to the Chinese business customs, the business attire is basically unpretentious and conservative. Men are supposed to wear dark colored conservative business suits while the women should wear conservative business dresses with a high neckline. Women should also put on flat shoes or any shoes that have low heels. It is always good to avoid bright colors according to the Chinese business norms. This dress code etiquette is very vital for Daniel's Software Company because while presenting their products to the Chinese companies the sales executive will have the basic dress code so that they may not end up being belittled as a result of unnecessary dress code.

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Business cards are usually exchanged after an initial introduction. They should have one side that is translated into Chinese using some simplified Chinese characters that are usually printed in gold ink because gold is perceived to be an auspicious color. The business card should also include the company's title and whether the company is the oldest or largest in that country. This business cards etiquette is very vital to Daniel's Software Company because they will now be aware of the manner in which they will arrange or plan their business cards before they issue them to their prospective business relations (Executiveplanet.com, 2010).

Conclusion

The identification of the international differences in social and norms makes very huge differences between successful business negotiators and the mortifying rejections. It is important for the management to ensure that all the employees and managers who are going to be working in the new company all explicitly conversant with the social and business norms of China failure to which the company may have a slip up. The company must also ensure that they take up employees who are sharp and very flexible because some of the employees may fail to adjust to the social and business norms of the company thus leading it to international failure.

References

Cbbc.org. (2009). Business & culture. Retrieved from http://www.cbbc.org/china_guide/b_culture.html

Executiveplanet.com. (2010). China. Retrieved from http://www.executiveplanet.com/index.php?title=China

Kwintessential.co.uk. (n.d). China - Language, Culture, Customs and Etiquette. Retrieved from http://www.kwintessential.co.uk/resources/global-etiquette/china-country-profile.html

Mter9248. (2007). Cultural Differences and International Business Communication. Retrieved from http://www.content4reprint.com/business/communication/cultural-differences-and-international-business-communication.htm